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Smartphone Shipments Top One Billion For First Time

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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IDC figures show that the smartphone market, headed up by Samsung, Apple and Nokia, is stronger than ever

The annual number of smartphones shipped worldwide topped the one billion mark for the first time in 2013, say figures released today by research firm IDC.

Boosted by strong performances from Samsung and Apple, vendors shipped a total of 1,004.2 million smartphones worldwide during 2013, up 38.4 percent from the 725.3 million units shipped in 2012, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

“The sheer volume and strong growth attest to the smartphone’s continued popularity in 2013,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “Total smartphone shipments reached 494.4 million units worldwide in 2011, and doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones.”

Samsung Galaxy Round 1Leading the way

According to the report, Samsung ended 2013 as it had begun the year, as, “the clear leader” in worldwide smartphone shipments, taking a 31.3 percent market share by shipping 313.9 million units, up 42.9 percent from 2012. This ended a successful year for the South Korean manufacturer, which recently cemented its leading position by taking Apple’s place as the number one enterprise smartphone vendor.

Apple finished the year in second place, taking 15.3 percent of the market share by shipping 153.4 million units, up 12.9 percent from last year’s figure. The report states that despite Apple having the lowest year-on-year increase of all the leading vendors, its entry into the Chinese smartphone market should ensure it sees good growth through 2014. The company released its first quarter results last night, announcing it had sold a record number of iPhones during the holiday period, helping it set a quarterly revenue record.

Making up the rest of the top five vendors were Huawei (4.9 percent, 48.8 million units shipped), LG (4.8 percent, 47.7 million units shipped) and Lenovo (4.5 percent, 45.5 million units shipped), all of which saw growth from the previous year, taking market share away from Apple.

The figures show how congested and competitive the smartphone market has become, with Lenovo edging out ZTE for fifth place by a mere five million units. The report also shows how Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and Lenovo are becoming bigger players in the global market, with the latter recording incredibly strong results despite having no presence at all in Western Europe or North America.

“Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost,” said Ryan Reith, programme director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume.”

“Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.”

Overall worldwide mobile phone sales, (where smartphones are included with other feature phones), reached 1,821.8 million units in 2013, up 4.8 percent from 2012. These figures still placed Samsung as the overall market leader, taking 24.5 percent of the market, but showed Nokia as the second largest vendor; with the 251 million units it shipped giving it 13.8 percent market share, far ahead of Apple (8.4 percent) in third place.

Overall, smartphones accounted for 55.1 percent of all mobile phone shipments in 2013, up from the 41.7 percent of all mobile phone shipments in 2012.

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